What is justice? 正義系啥米

What is justice? (正義系啥米) was held at the Leader University (立德大學) in Tainan yesterday. The event featured a concert with a number of leading Taiwan bands as well as an exhibition about 228 Incident. The event was organised by the Leader University Hot Rock Club (立德大學熱音社) and the 228 Memorial Foundation.

An exhibition about 228 was set up at the edge of the hall with many people walking through it during the afternoon. Many of the bands encouraged people to go over and have a look at the exhibition and think about what the 228 means. Every year on 28 February there are events to commemorate the 228 Incident, but it shouldn’t be an issue that is just put in the spotlight one day a year. Events like this give people another opportunity to learn about and reflect on the meaning of 228. Continue reading

Cycling from Chiayi to Tainan

2009 07 24_chiayi-tainan_4018

On Friday I took a bus down to Chiayi along with my friend Ian who was visiting from Australia. I took my own bike down on the bus, while Ian hired a touring bike from the Giant store. The hire service offered by Giant is very good with quality bikes at a reasonable price (more details  here). The only problem was the CRX-1 model Ian hired didn’t have a good selection of gears for hill climbing. In the afternoon we went on easy ride out to the Solar Exploration Center (北回歸線太陽館) in Chiayi County, which sits on the Tropic of Cancer.

2009 07 25_chiayi-tainan_3952

We headed out of town on Saturday morning and once we got outside the city the roads were pretty free of traffic. The original plan was to cycle up to the Zengwen Reservoir, however this was changed to a shorter and easier route to the hot springs town of Guanziling (關子嶺). Continue reading

The bomb and the big mistake

Below are photos of a couple of interesting signs I saw while while in Tainan.

Bomb Japanese style pork

The above sign could perhaps best be described as Chinese with Japanese characteristics. The first two characters, inside the picture of the bomb, are 炸彈 (zhàdàn). However, the form of dàn is actually Kanji rather than the traditional (彈) or simplified (弹) Chinese character. The difference is quite small. The simplified Chinese has two dashes at the top of the character, the traditional Chinese two squares and the Kanji has three dashes.

The Japanese flavour of this sign extends a little further. The next part says 日式豚 (rìshì tún) meaning Japanese-style pork. The character 豚 is used for pig or pork in Japan, but in Taiwan and China 猪 (zhū) is the character used for pig or pork.

There are also two katakana following the characters. I am not sure what they say. Update: Thanks to Mark and Greta for their comments. 豚カツ (tonkatsu) means pork cutlet. See the Japanese wikipedia article for more details (if you can read Japanese) or see the English wikipedia article.

4 Gress da jhong miao

This sign is a good example of bad design. There are multiple problems here. The first is writing the English and pinyin sideways down the sign making it very difficult to read without tilting your head. It would be almost impossible to read while driving past in a car. Also the sign is visually cluttered. Reading some of the Chinese is difficult simply because it is too small, especially the 3公里 (3 kms) in red at the top and the 台江文史生態之旅 on the left hand side.

The other major problem with this sign is the strange combination of pinyin, English and Arabic numerals. There is also a spelling mistake in the English, gress instead of grass.

The first character of the sign, 四, has been written as 4 rather than written in pinyin as si. The next character, 草, has been written as grass (with a spelling mistake) rather than the pinyin cao. The next two characters, 大眾, are written in Tongyong Pinyin as Da Jhong. This is the only part that might be considered correct. The last character, 廟, is written as miao. While this is correct pinyin it would usually be translated to the English word temple.

The best way of writing the pinyin and English on this sign would be Sih Cao Da Jhong Temple (using Tongyong Pinyin) or Si Cao Da Zhong Temple (using Hanyu Pinyin).

NOTE: You can see higher resolution versions of these photos in my photo gallery. 4 Gress Da Jhong Miao and Bomb.

Also if I have made any mistakes or misinterpretations don’t be afraid to correct me in the comments.

Amazing Tainan

men with painted faces and costumes participate in a temple parade in Tainan, Taiwan

My first impression of Tainan (台南) was nothing special. I got off the bus and walked to my hotel; the streets of Tainan looked little different from any other city in Taiwan. After taking a brief rest I set out to explore the city.  

It wasn't long before I saw a parade going through the streets. There were statues of gods carried on palanquins and various colorful banners. Perhaps I only caught part of it because it quickly passed.

Costumes of three gods lined up while taking a breakA little later I heard music coming from a small alleyway and went to see what it was all about. I was soon caught up in the middle of a stupendous parade. Gods of all shapes and sizes, people in amazing costumes, cymbals and horns to create plenty of noise. All would stop briefly to pay respects to the god in the small local temple before disappearing down the alley.

As I spent the rest of the day wandering the streets of Tainan I encountered this parade several times. It was accompanied by a cacophony of activity wherever it went, particularly the fireworks that were set off! 

When I wasn't observing the parade I was visiting some amazing temples filled with exquisite artwork and rich in history. Many of the temples have more than 300 years of history.  

man cutting tongue and possessed by god in temple ritual

The next day, completely by chance, I came across another amazing temple ritual at the Fengshen Temple (風神寺). After a huge amount of fireworks were set off and several statues of gods were brought into the temple two men took centre stage. Brandishing swords and other weapons they became possessed by the gods. One man cut his tongue and performed a strange dance. Another man had a ball studded with nails in his mouth. 

A man explained to me in English that it was the birthday of the god in the temple. People from temples all around Taiwan come to pay respect to the god. He also told me that 300 years ago this temple was at the water's edge and it was a place were traders came from China. A stone gate near the temple was called the Old Government Reception Archway (接官亭). 

Painting of Anping Fort in 1678There was so much to discover in Tainan that three days there was barely enough. On the second day I also visited Anping (安平). The most famous place there is the Anping Fort (安平古堡), also known as Fort Zeelandia. This was built by the Dutch in the early 17th Century. The fort was originally on an island (see the picture), but the local landscape has changed markedly since then. Although its position close to the water still allows one to appreciate its links to Taiwan's maritime history. Anping is also home to more temples and old buildings.

Cheng Gong Lake in the grounds of Cheng Kung UniversityAnother thing I liked about the city was the number of attractive parks. The photo is of the Chenggong Lake in the grounds of Cheng Kung University (成功大學). There are many large and beautiful banyan trees. These are home to many squirrels

On my final day in Tainan I tried to visit a few of the places that I had earlier missed. There were still a few things I didn't see, but that's a good excuse to go back again.  

P.S. I have a huge amount of photos to sort through and I will upload many of them to my photo gallery. In the meantime have a look at my photos tagged Tainan at flickr.